Summertime Bees and Blooms – A Wildflower Meadow in Hampshire
This month has been a busy one beyond belief for me, for a hotchpotch of reasons, some good and others not so much.
I’ve been industriously buzzing around sorting, organising, planning for everything from a likely house move, through a (not-looked-forward-to) operation, to a couple of weddings – one in the glorious setting of Amberly Castle, the other in Sweden.
All of which hasn’t left me much time to put hands to keyboard and turn travel experiences into readable articles. But I can’t let July slip dreamily by without bringing you a little piece of summertime joy to go along with the hazy and stormy weather of recent weeks.
And since I’ve mentioned ‘buzzing’ around, there’s no better way to do this than introducing you to New Milton Wildflower Meadow – a sweet little patch of roadside verge brimming with beauty and bees – by way of 31 images, one for each day of the month.
I discovered this floral gem on an everyday trip to the supermarket a few weeks back, while the recent June heatwave was in full melt. As I navigated the mini-roundabout between Lymington Road and Milford Road, on the southern edge of the Hampshire town of New Milton, my attention was caught by the kaleidoscopic flash of hues and shapes on the far side of the road. I wasn’t able to take it in properly as I was driving, but felt compelled enough to return later the same day to take a closer look.
But I had no idea WHERE to begin. Splashes of vivid red, bursts of yellow and orange, streaks of purple…big floppy flowers, tight compact flowers, raggedy green blades of grass, clusters of white cow parsley, pale pink poppies, spiky thistles…each and every inch a microcosm of natural wealth.
As I wondered what to focus on first, nature made the choice for me. A blip of stripy yellow and brown buzzed in front of my nose before settling on one of the nectar-rich flowers just in front. For many years now, people have been talking about habitat preservations and the importance of bees for our fragile ecosystems, and in this moment I suddenly became painfully aware of how few bees I’d actually seen in recent times. In little more than a couple of minutes, this bee hopped across several flowers and off into the distance, to be succeeded by at least half a dozen more.
A silent army of butterflies dappled across my field of vision, restless and ethereal, not settling for long enough to be captured by my camera. In truth, I was all but oblivious to the traffic darting along a few feet behind me.
I took some photos, then stopped and gazed. I half wanted to wade into the midst of it all, but common sense told me that I’d get snagged by a thorny thing or stung by a buzzy one – plus I didn’t want to damage anything. So I simply kept on gazing, getting lost in the swaying stems, the dancing petals and the fluttering insects.
I noticed how small this meadow is, in the grand scheme of things – approximately 40/50 metres in length and between a couple and 15 metres or so wide (it’s kind of a tear-shape), but what an amazing example of putting an otherwise wasted strip to the best possible use.
It was only towards the end that I realised there was a sign on the pavement, explaining who was responsible for the meadow – New Milton Residents’ Association. Bravo to them. I want to contact them, to get the full background on this wonderful project and find out if there are plans to introduce more wildflower meadows in these discarded little corners of Hampshire.
I’ve since seen several further little patches of wildflower meadow in the area, on roundabouts or along central reservations, for example – but not yet one that matches this in intensity or a sense of deliberate cultivation.
For anybody wondering whether they can make a difference, or who doubts how much impact can be made by starting locally, take a moment to reflect on the benefits and the positive knock-on effects of this unassuming enterprise. In fact, it’s THE way to make change happen faster.
Much more effective than signing on-line petitions and ‘reacting’ to social media links, eh? Meanwhile, if you’re ever passing along the coastal roads south of the New Forest at this time of year, come and savour New Milton’s Wildflower Meadow- I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be here for many years to come.
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